Day 8 - Murchison River to Billabong 119km

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There was a hive of activity at the Murchison River camp site before dawn as Richard gave most of us the wake-up call at 5:30pm as he emerged from his five star accommodation located in the back of All Trails’ Troop Carrier. As the peloton was scattered around the site in tents, accommodation ratings all become relative. Discussions immediately fired up around how surprisingly well we all slept. Some of us heard the ducks socialising throughout the night; Maz & Baz informed us that it was a mother duck with six ducklings feeding on all the insects hovering over the surface of the Murchison River.

Tent gymnastics became the next form of entertainment as we all attempted to repack the so called ‘Easy Up Tents’. It became blatantly obvious very quickly that they were not particularly ‘easy down & pack away’ tents. Like most things in life, there were a few amongst us who seemed to be blessed with the skill that made the impossible appear so simple with one smooth motion, collapsing last night’s homes into a bag a tenth of the size of each tent in two seconds flat! For those of us who were ‘easy down & pack-up’ deficient, we sang the praises of those gifted with the Midas tent-touch.

In-between Richard and Lou’s buffet breakfast, the main focus was then to clean the cleats on our cycling shoes and leave as much of the Murchison clay behind. To add to the level of organised chaos, a shower came through just as the our luggage was being loaded into the trailer while we were all trying to coordinate the last minute preparations before rolling out. Eventually, the peloton rolled back out to the main road for the 120km ride to the Billabong Homestead.

I labelled today’s ride, ‘The Baz Carter Special’ as he had pointed out to me at last night’s ride briefing that except for a few bumps in the road, the ride would largely be a steady downhill. His assessment proved to be accurate! Like yesterday, the wind gods were in our favour and we were treated to a spectacular day of cycling. Cyclists settled into small groups for a steady ride to our first morning tea. Timed to perfection, Richard and Lou pulled into the morning tea stop just in front of the lead group. With fruit cake sitting on the table and various accompanying delights, these two continue to put a smile on the face of the peloton. Much of the banter was about how amazing it was to ride with a tail wind.

Warmed up, fed and a short ride of 24km to our next break, we took the time to take in the landscape, which has an amazing array of native scrub and wheat fields all dipped in rich red soil. The contrast is quite spectacular!

With only 45km to the Roadhouse, everyone was talking about how wonderful a shower would be when we arrived. With the enticement of food and an opportunity to sleep in a ‘real’ bed (for most of us as three cyclists chose to camp the entire way), the pace was on. Before we knew it we had arrived. The Roadhouse was ready for us and the food came out very quickly. Burgers, pies, chips and toasted sandwiches, accompanied with the recovery drink of choice - chocolate milk. We were all smiles.

Discussion quickly moved to how many kms will we be cycling tomorrow. With the highly anticipated rest day in Nanga Bay ahead of us, we are all looking forward to being treated to the spectacular ocean vista across Shark Bay Marine Park and the opportunity to take a dip & snorkel along the reef of Monkey Mia. Many have had this destination on their bucket list for years, so the excitement is building.

Patsy and Mandy have been confined to the support vehicles the past few days due to the inclement weather, so we intend to see them out stretching their legs and appearing in some expected, and perhaps, unexpected locations across the next couple of days.

It’s now time to head to the bar for the first Happy Hour at 5pm, before dinner at 5:30pm. We are yet to be invited to the manager’s second Happy Hour at 9pm; however, much can happen within the space of 4hours with a group of excitable cyclists!

Richard Cooke